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Experience Level



1-3 miles/day


5,000 ft.

Registration Fee


Come with us on a Hetch Hetchy art backpack trip! On this three-day, two-night backpacking trip, you will learn to bring your art into the wilderness and paint on location, recording your experience in the mountains with watercolor. Join one of our naturalist guides and our guest instructor Nikki Frumkin for a weekend adventure to Cottonwood Creek, where we’ll explore and capture the energy and movement of Yosemite’s forests, meadows, and streams. You will learn how to minimize your impact on your surroundings and apply a Leave No Trace backpacker’s mindset to create a wilderness-friendly, portable art supply kit. If you enjoy watercolor painting and backpacking, this is the trip for you.

As you learn, you’ll enjoy the serene surroundings of Cottonwood Creek, where we’ll camp for two nights. Forests, meadows, and wildflowers will inspire your art. By the time you hop off the trail, you’ll have the skills to plan your next wilderness adventure and the inspiration to add to your art journal! The mountains inspire big feelings and emotions, and Nikki is excited to help you explore them through watercolor.

Some drawing, painting, and backpacking experience is helpful for this art retreat, but all levels are welcome. If you’re not sure if this workshop is the right fit for you, get in touch, we’re happy to help!


  • When: June 22 through June 25
  • Where: Cottonwood Creek, Hetch Hetchy
  • Hiking: The group will paint at different locations throughout the retreat; please be prepared to walk 1-3 miles/day, as not all locations will be accessible by car.
  • Registration includes: Three days of progressive learning and painting en plein air with artist Nikki Frumkin, park entry (as needed), and two nights of backpacking in Yosemite’s wilderness. The group will camp their first night at Hodgdon Meadows Campground before backpacking out to Cottonwood Creek; camping at Hodgdon Campground after the backpacking portion of your trip is optional, but not required.
  • There is no discount if you choose not to use the included gate pass.
  • We can’t allow unregistered friends or family of participants on this trip. Backcountry permits and lodging arrangements for unregistered friends and family are the responsibility of participants.

View the supply list and a suggested packing list for this backpacking trip/art retreat combo.